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Patrick Ngowi – An African Success Story

Patrick Ngowi – An African Success Story

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Patrick Ngowi is one of the biggest and most successful entrepreneurs in Africa. He has won various awards for his timeless contribution to Africa’s energy crisis development.  Patrick also introduced the concept of solar “photovoltaic” energy on a large scale. Patrick is a devoted philanthropist who loves to give back to the community and the people. He always had a knack for entrepreneurship and started pursuing his interest at the tender age of 15. So, how did he begin his side business ventures and turn them into a full-time, large-scale business? Let’s find out:

Patrick Ngowi was born in Tanzania in 1985. At this time, electricity was practically nonexistent in a large part of Africa.

Patrick started the solar energy corporation Helvetic Solar Contractors. The company’s net worth increased to more than 8 million before he turned 30.

Patrick was born into a family of academics, and his parents firmly instilled the importance of a proper education. Both his Mother and father were qualified lecturers and wanted Ngowi to have an even better career than them. Little did they know that the young boy was considering moving into the business industry. Ngowi was on his way to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Ngowi started his first Business when he was just 15 years old. With a sharp mind and a typical business and entrepreneurial mindset, he earned a profit by selling top-up vouchers. And this was the beginning of the path Ngowi would continue moving on.

Ngowi observed that many huge mobile phone companies like Vodacom and Tigo were expanding into Africa. They provided top-up vouchers for mobile phones, available in huge malls or specific mobile parts shops. People used to travel long distances to the main central areas where these companies had set up operations. Ngowi lived near Arusha, which acted like the commercial city where these services were available. But the people in his neighborhood had to travel far away for the airtime and voucher-ups. So, Ngowi spotted this inconvenience and decided to make a business out of it as a proper businessman thinks.

He asked for a 50,000 cash loan from his Mother, equivalent to 50 dollars in the U.S. He went and bought many top-ups from the big dealers in Arusha. Patrick’s parents were strict on Education and he needed more time to sell these vouchers. So he gave these vouchers to fuel station attendants and made a small profit out of it. He did not earn much, but it was a step in the right direction. He continued small time for two years through this Business.

“It was a business on the side, nothing serious, but I loved that I was making money and becoming a bit independent. The very foundation of my little success was formed during those years. I learned about profit and loss, margins, marketing, and hiring the right people. I learned so many things at that stage.”

After discovering all the odds and benefits of owning a business, Ngowi started his second and more professional Business with much preparation. Ngowi had just finished high school and took a gap year before going to a university to pursue his passion for entrepreneurship. He started a second business at age 18.

During this time, the mobile phone industry was still evolving and in the early stages of becoming mainstream. Due to this, only the upper class and wealthy could afford mobile phones as they were pretty expensive. Even Ngowi could not afford the costly phones sold in his country.

Ngowi developed an interest in traveling and started to travel to many Asian countries; during these trips, he discovered the concept of cheap and inexpensive phones sold at wholesale and dealer rates. Putting his entrepreneurial brain to work again, he spent 1,800 U.S. dollars buying affordable phones at bulk prices. He had borrowed this money from his mom, who always supported him. Patrick Ngowi started traveling back and forth between Tanzania and Hong Kong to buy phones and parts cheaply to take to Tanzania.

The Business turned out to be a huge success, and the roundabout turnover of this business venture spiked to 150,000 dollars per year. “Life was good,” Ngowi recalled about his time selling mobile phones in Tanzania. Many people would have stayed in this line of Business considering the profit margin, but not Patrick Ngowi, the influential entrepreneur. He was on the path of finding a unique idea and turning it into a business.

Ngowi was traveling a lot during this period of his life. During his visits to China, Ngowi fell in love with the idea of solar energy and saw the potential of using solar energy as a legitimate business. At this time, Solar energy wasn’t in Africa, and the concept of it was barely known. The electricity crisis in Africa was huge, causing industries to fail due to a lack of energy and function; all industries were not progressing due to the energy shortage. Even the wealthiest people in Africa did not buy into the concept of solar energy and were largely dependent on generators. Ngowi saw this chaos and planned to turn it into an opportunity.

Just as Ngowi dreamed of building his Business and expanding it to unimaginable lengths, his Mother insisted that he finish his Education first. Ngowi’s parents did not compromise on his Education, and Ngowi had to abandon his mobile phone-selling Business. He went to China for his higher Education, used his money from Business, and enrolled in the “Wenzhou University” of China. Patrick chose renewable energy as his subject and fell in love with starting a solar energy business. He has now begun to take action and make his dream come true.

Patrick befriended many contractors in China and also studied a lot about Business. He would then order the materials for solar energy. Many contractors from Arusha would also request the materials from the Chinese contractors through Ngowi, as many people needed help to afford frequent visits to China. After completing his studies, Ngowi ordered thermal and solar equipment materials and took them home to focus on his dream.

Ngowi established a store and focused heavily on marketing his company, as the concept of solar energy was entirely alien. He wanted to educate people about the benefits of solar energy. He sold his products to government officials, schools, and even hospitals to make sure everyone would understand and buy his products. But it was not that easy initially; Ngowi admitted it himself. The sales were nonexistent for the first few months; Ngowi recalled feeling lost and disappointed that his dream was not giving him the fruits of his hard work.

Ngowi’s Mother was always a source of comfort and warmth for him. She was the one who trusted his vision the most and believed that Ngowi would achieve all his dreams. At age 15, his Mother lent him a 50-dollar loan without a second thought as she trusted her son. Even at age 18, she gave him a considerable loan of 1,800 dollars because she knew her son would achieve everything.

Even during this challenging time, Ngowi’s Mother pushed him to continue the solar energy business and told him he would succeed one day. At a time when Ngowi felt like he had entered the wrong Business, his Mother stood by him, and that is the reason why he became successful. Ngowi owes all his success to his Mother, a driving force behind his career.

With the words of encouragement from his Mother, Ngowi kept on marketing his Business, and as the media promoted the rise of solar energy, Ngowi’s Business began to gain traction. The primary reason for his success was that his company could only provide solar energy except for one more, so whoever in Arusha needed solar power had to consult Helvetic Solar Contractors. A considerable spark in sales occurred in 2007 for Ngowi because Ngowi managed to set up solar panels for his smaller and not-so-rich clients. In this way, he targeted most middle-class people in Africa, which became a huge catalyst in giving Ngowi’s company its popularity.

Many Government agencies also began to trust Helvetic Solar Contractors due to their unique and positive client portfolio. Since then, the company has never seen a downfall. The total net worth of Ngowi’s company reached up to 3 million around 2011. The company currently stands at more than 10 million dollars. In this way, Patrick Ngowi has managed to achieve such a successful business even before reaching 30 years of age.


The main goal of Ngowi is to expand the solar energy business outside of Tanzania. Ngowi expresses his views on this matter in the following words:

“It’s great for us because neighboring governments issue tenders, and they look at your portfolio and the clients you’ve catered to, and they see we’ve got a good track record and excellent products. So it’s easy for us to get awarded contracts.”

Ngowi has many other interests besides flourishing in his solar energy business and growing Helvetic Solar Contractors. His estimated net worth is about 5 million dollars, but he intends to expand it by traveling and investing in many real estate properties. He has bought many stakes in hotels in Arusha, and in this way, he wants to diversify his portfolio.

Patrick Ngowi has set an example for all youngsters who can achieve their goals by being clever and taking the right opportunity. Due to the sheer number of contributions of Ngowi, he has received many prestigious titles. Patrick Ngowi’s Helvetic Solar Contractors was named the “Fastest Growing and Number One Company,” and Ngowi received an “Africa’s Young Person of the Year” award, making him an inspiration for many young Africans.

Tanzanian Post Office with Solar Power

Patrick Ngowi believes in giving back to the community, which made him this successful. When Ngowi learned about the energy crisis in most African areas, he could not stop helping others. He has set up the “Light for Life Foundation,” which has donated 100 solar kits for groups of young men and women who intend to earn their income at a young age. He has found the meaning of his work, and Ngowi is working on his contributions to helping the country fight the energy crisis that is stopping them from progressing.

Impact through energy innovation, supported by the Power Africa Beyond the Grid initiative, empowers rural families in Tanzania to extend their productive day well beyond nightfall. This Tanzanian man can sew at night thanks to a d.light solar lantern, providing additional income generating opportunities for him and his family. Power Africa is breaking cycles of poverty by giving people the tools needed to improve the livelihood of their families and communities.

After so many achievements, anyone would get arrogant, but not Patrick Ngowi. He has proven to be a humble and down-to-earth guy who believes in growing as a person. His philosophical and religious beliefs are,

“If God has brought me this far,

I know he’s going to take me there,”

Patrick Ngowi is a source of inspiration for many and a perfect entrepreneurial strategist for others. His life story truly encapsulates the idea of “Answering when opportunity knocks on your door.”


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